ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OcuSciences, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing retinal imagers to detect early disease by assessing retinal metabolic activity, today announced the online publication of its initial glaucoma study. The findings illustrate a possible paradigm shift in the way in which glaucoma is currently diagnosed and monitored.
The study was led by Richard Rosen, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology, and Robert Ritch, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of Glaucoma Research at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. The study assessed patients with established glaucoma as well as those suspicious for glaucoma based on the presence of ocular hypertension. The study found that macular flavoprotein fluorescence (FPF), measured by OcuSciences’ flagship device, the OcuMet Beacon, was significantly elevated in patients with ocular hypertension (OHT). Patients that had developed primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), based on the WHO classification, showed elevated FPF within the remaining retinal ganglion cell (RGC) and inner plexiform layers, assessed by using FPF in combination with OCT to create a FPF/RGC+ thickness ratio. This indicated that while some cell loss had occurred in POAG, the remaining retinal ganglion cells had a high degree of metabolic dysfunction.
“Eye specialists recognize the critical need for early detection and diagnosis of primary open-angle glaucoma, so that sight-sparing therapies can be implemented at an early stage. The OcuMet Beacon is an easy-to-use instrument designed to give a rapid, quantitative readout of retinal metabolic health,” said Kurt Riegger, President and COO of OcuSciences. “The study suggests retinal metabolic dysfunction may occur in glaucoma suspects with only ocular hypertension. We believe FPF could be a game changer in detecting early glaucomatous damage and helping to assess therapeutic efficacy.”
The technology that the OcuMet Beacon is built upon was developed at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center by Victor Elner, MD, PhD, an ophthalmologist and pathologist, and Howard Petty, PhD, a biophysicist and immunologist. The two realized there was an unmet need to diagnose patients earlier in the disease process to not only limit vision loss, but prevent it with early initiation of therapy.
“Our approach is to look at the metabolic health of the retina. While most ophthalmic diagnostic tools identify tissue damage and cell death, such as thinning of the retina that occurs later in the disease process, our device looks for the precursor to that damage. This allows optometrists and ophthalmologists to possibly intervene earlier and more successfully,” said Erich Heise, Director of Business Development at OcuSciences.
The results of the initial glaucoma study also have implications for assessing therapeutic efficacy, including evaluating ophthalmic-focused pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and advanced therapies.
Since the OcuMet Beacon provides the clinician with a quantitative FPF readout, physicians can, by taking multiple images over time, investigate the retinal metabolic change and optimize treatments. “An indication that a drug or intervention is working, or improving overall tissue metabolism, before structural changes become apparent, would be fantastic. I think this truly could be the next big leap in diagnosing, monitoring and treating retinal disease,” said Rosen.
Drs. Rosen and Ritch have no financial interest in the company.
The United States FDA has not reviewed the OcuMet Beacon instrument nor claims for software to diagnose glaucoma using the instrument. This study was conducted under Institutional Review Board (IRB).
About OcuSciences, Inc.
OcuSciences, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing retinal imagers to identify metabolic dysfunction occurring in the retina for the detection of early disease. Its flagship device, the OcuMet Beacon, is being developed to automatically and non-invasively assess retinal metabolic function by detecting the degree of flavoprotein fluorescence (FPF), a well-studied precursor to retinal cell death, in a patient’s eye. OcuSciences has shown preliminary clinical utility in a number of disease states, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system encompassing seven hospital campuses, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians; 10 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers.